Thanks for letting me take over your blog, Chrys! Today I’m going to share with you and your readers something about a very special tree.
Lignum vitae, which means tree of life or wood of life, is a slow growing tree the wood of which is so heavy it can’t float. It has been used for many things, including gears and bearings for clocks and shaft bearings in ships and hydro-electric power plants.
Cricket balls, skittles balls, and croquet mallets have been made from it as well was as belaying pins (used for securing lines) and deadeyes (used in standing and running rigging) on sailing ships like the USS Constitution.
Pete Seeger, the folk singer, made the neck of his banjo out of it. In T. H. White’s book The Once and Future King, Merlin’s wand comes from the lignum vitae. And in Bleak House, Charles Dickens refers to his character Matthew Bagnet as lignum vitae “…in compliment to the extreme hardness and toughness of his physiognomy.”
I have my grandmother mortar and pestle (probably near 100 years old) which has been used so long the pestle is worn and the interior of the mortar is shiny and smooth.
Lignum vitae is still so popular that it is now endangered.
This lignum vitae, in Cruz Bay St. John is well over 100 years old.
This one on St. Thomas is probably about 200 years old.
In my book, The Bowl and the Stone: A Haunting Tale from the Virgin Islands, the lignum vitae symbolizes the enduring relationship between of the four main characters, Sam and her best friend Nick, Trumps, and the ghost that haunts them.
Pirates. Explorers. And spooky ghost hunters.
It’s 1962. Sam and her best friend, Nick, have the whole
, in the U. S.
Virgin Islands, as their playground. They’ve got 240-year-old sugar plantation
ruins to explore, beaches to swim, and trails to hike. island
of St. John
But when a man disappears like a vapor right in front of them, they must confront a scary new reality. They’re being haunted. By whom? And why? He’s even creeping into Nick’s dreams.
They need help, but the one who might be able to give it is Trumps, a reclusive hunchback who doesn’t like people, especially kids. Are Sam and Nick brave enough to face him? And if they do, will he listen to them?
As carefree summer games turn into eerie hauntings, Sam and Nick learn more about themselves and life than they could ever have imagined.
Available now at:
About the Author:
Bish Denham, whose mother’s side of the family has been in the
for over one hundred years, was raised in the U. S. Virgin Islands. She still
has lots of family living there whom she visits regularly.
She says, “Growing up in the islands was like living inside a history book.
Columbus named the islands, Sir Francis Drake sailed
through the area, and Alexander Hamilton was raised on St.
Croix. The ruins of hundreds of sugar plantations, built with the
sweat and blood of slave labor, litter the islands. Then there were the pirates
who plied the waters. It is within this atmosphere of wonder and mystery, that
I grew up. Life for me was magical, and through my writing I hope to pass on
some of that magic.”
The Bowl and the Stone: A Haunting Tale from the
Virgin Islands, is
her third book and second novel. You can find Anansi and Company: Retold Jamaican Tales and A Lizard’s Tail, at Amazon.com.
To learn more about Bish, you can visit her blog, Random Thoughts.
She can also be found on Facebook